There has been a surge in the popularity of collagen products lately, mostly powders, capsules, and liquids.
These products claim to improve the appearance of aging skin, relieve joint pain, and even increase metabolism and promote weight loss.
I am seeing more and more advertisements for new brands daily. But are these products really doing the things they promise? Many of my patients have been asking lately, do collagen supplements actually work?
I was skeptical at first, but after reviewing studies and waiting to see results, I believe the products are worth the hype and deserve a place in your skincare and joint health routine.
Let's take a closer look at the research and benefits of collagen protein.
Dr. Angela Walk
Founder of Nashville Organix
What is Collagen Protein?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body and is the “glue” that holds everything together. It makes up about one-third of the protein in your body, research shows.
Your body produces less collagen starting in your thirties and forties. Collagen peptides added to your diet may serve to replace what your body begins to lack as you age, and support your overall health.
Collagen is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. Collagen benefits are so striking because this protein is what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells.
And when it comes to our joints and tendons, collagen allows us to glide and move without pain due to it's gel-like structure.
Sadly, our body’s collagen production naturally begins to slow down as we age. We can thank this degenerative process for signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin and joint pains due to weaker or decreased cartilage.
Other lifestyle factors such as eating a diet high in sugar, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and high amounts of sun exposure can also contribute to depleting collagen levels.
What Are The Benefits Of Collagen Protein?
Does Collagen Tighten Loose Skin?
Improving skin and hair health is considered the most well-researched benefit of taking a collagen supplement. As we age, collagen production declines.
It is evident with the physical signs of looser skin, more wrinkles and less elasticity. Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally.
Supplementing with collagen also helps boost elasticity in our skin which means it tightens loose, sagging skin. As little as 10 grams per day can promote a more youthful appearance
Does Collagen Help Joint Pain?
Evidence shows that collagen can be great for supporting connective tissues and improving joint pain.
One study published in January 2017 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found that athletes with knee pain who took 5 g of collagen peptides daily for 12 weeks had less joint pain during exercise compared with a placebo group.
Oral collagen may support cartilage repair and may also have an anti-inflammatory effect. When we lose collagen, our tendons and ligaments start moving with less ease, leading to stiffness, swollen joints and more.
Think of ingesting more collagen like greasing a creaky door hinge: It helps your joints move more easily, reduces pain often associated with aging and even reduces the risk of joint deterioration.
Do Collagen Supplements Improve Gut Health?
Collagen is an excellent supplement to improve gut health. There are a few major benefits of collagen when it comes to your gut: it aids in digestion, helps repair the gut lining, and helps heal leaky gut and IBS.
Taking a collagen supplement can potentially help boost your natural collagen production and promote healing in the gut wall.
It's important to take a supplement that contains either hydrolyzed collagen or collagen peptides. This means the collagen has been broken down into very small particles, making it easy for your stomach to absorb and digest.
Can Collagen Strengthen Bones?
Collagen peptides can keep bones healthy. Bone mineral density decreases as you age, especially after menopause, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial on 102 post-menopausal women, participants who took collagen peptides for one year increased their bone mineral density compared with the control group. These are promising results for our aging community.
Do Collagen Supplements Help Weight Loss?
Collagen boosts metabolism, muscle mass and energy output. As we know, adding lean muscle mass increases our metabolism naturally. So, a boost in collagen translates into effortless weight loss benefits.
Can Collagen Protein Build Muscle?
Collagen is also a major part of your muscle tissue. In fact, it's the most abundant protein in your body. So if you're looking to build muscle mass, collagen supplements might help.
There is promising evidence that adding collagen to your diet can help support muscle-building efforts. Arginine and glycine, two of the amino acids found in collagen, are used to make creatine.
Creatine plays a role in building muscle mass and strength. Several studies have found taking a collagen peptide supplement in combination with regular resistance training improves muscle mass and strength.
A study of 53 older men with sarcopenia, or the natural loss of muscle mass that occurs with aging, were given collagen supplements while participating in 12 weeks of strength training.
Those who took collagen had significantly greater gains in muscle and strength and lost more body fat compared to the placebo group.
Similar results were found in studies involving young men and premenopausal women. The groups that took a collagen supplement gained more fat-free muscle mass and strength than the placebo groups following 12 weeks of resistance training.
How can you preserve the natural collagen you have left?
Avoid eating too much sugar and refined carbs. Sugar interferes with collagen’s ability to repair itself. Minimize your consumption of added sugar and refined carbs
Avoid excessive sun exposure. Ultraviolet radiation can reduce collagen production.
Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. Smoking reduces collagen production. This can impair wound healing and lead to wrinkles. Excessive drinking creates similar skin damage
Stay hydrated - Dehydration leads to unhealthy, dry skin
Eat an high protein and antioxidant rich diet
What Is The Best Supplement For Collagen?
So, do we necessarily need collagen supplements to make sure we’re getting enough collagen in our diet? Well, the research says, yes!
The collagen in food isn’t well digested or absorbed by the body, so you’d have to eat massive quantities of these foods to get enough collagen.
When it comes to choosing a collagen supplement, you’ll want to consider which form is best for you, for example powder, capsules, or liquid.
While some supplements may contain only one or two types of collagen, other collagen products may offer a blend of several different types.
Collagen supplements are associated with several health benefits and very few known risks.
Supplements may increase muscle mass, prevent bone loss, relieve joint pain, and improve skin health by reducing wrinkles and dryness.
Preserving the collagen you have with protecting your skin from the sun, avoiding oxidative stress, staying hydrated, and eating healthfully are incredibly important. However, a collagen supplement can provide greater support as you age gracefully.
Best Of Health,
Hi, I'm Dr. Angela Walk...
I have been involved in the health and wellness industry for over 20 years as a wellness physician and holistic nutrition coach.
I have written extensively for health publications and I am keenly aware of trends and new developments. I embrace an active lifestyle combining diet, exercise and healthy choices.
My goal is to inform my readers of the natural options available to them in hopes of improving their health and quality of life.